The Giants hope this downtime can solve Aaron Sanchez’s velocity issues, and right now it solves their rotation crunch.
Rather than moving Logan Webb to the bullpen as Johnny Cueto returns to the rotation Sunday, the Giants moved Sanchez to the 10-day injured list Saturday with right bicep tightness. The corresponding move was activating Kevin Gausman from the COVID IL.
Sanchez has pitched effectively, if not remarkably, in six starts this year. He’s posted a 3.18 ERA and has only allowed more than two runs once — his last outing, in which he surrendered four in four innings — but hasn’t recorded an out in the sixth inning. When he was a rising star with Toronto in 2015 and 2016, he could regularly hit the upper-90s. After a shoulder surgery that didn’t allow him to pitch last season, his average fastball has been 89.9 mph this year.
Gabe Kapler said the tightness has been occurring “the last couple starts,” and Sanchez has managed through. Kapler expressed hope that an elevated version of Sanchez could return after “a little bit of a blow.” It does not sound as if Sanchez will be gone long.
The manager acknowledged that Sanchez, through the diminished stuff, has gotten outs anyway, but the club wants to see him “maintain and hold his stuff deeper into games,” Kapler said. There is a version of Sanchez “who has some kind of high-octane stuff to go along with his athleticism. We feel like there’s a chance that some of that gets to his level of satisfaction, our level of satisfaction.”
As Sanchez looks to be healed, Cueto said he has been.
“I feel like nothing ever happened,” Cueto said after a lat strain has kept him out since April 14. “And I’m really happy that I’m looking at going again.”
The 35-year-old will get the ball in the finale of the Padres series at Oracle Park. The Giants have not announced their rotation for Monday and Tuesday against Texas, but if they stay on turn, Alex Wood would start the first game and Webb could replace Sanchez for the second.
For a second time, an injury has created a rotation spot for Webb.